Monday, January 23, 2012


          A Quick Stew seems to be a bit of an oxymoron, doesn't it?  Yet, this lentil stew can be pulled together within an hour, which, all things considered, is not that long.  This stew is built by adding that holy trinity of flavors - onions, carrots and garlic.

Get it going with a quick chop of onions, then while they're cooking, chop the carrots.  After adding them, work on peeling and chopping just two potatoes.  Mince the garlic.  Then add those along with the stock and lentils.  Don't forget to stir in the cumin, salt and pepper at this point.

     Pour yourself a glass of wine, and sip.  We enjoyed a mellow old vine zin with this meal, but a tempranillo or pinot noir would work.  Take a deep breath over the pot, and get a good whiff of the cumin.  Relax, dinner is almost done.
     While you're waiting about 15 minutes for the lentils and potatoes to become tender, cut up the broccoli into small florets.  And if you're doing the sausage version, cut those into bite-sized pieces.

Sip some more wine.  Taste a sample of the stew.  Are the lentils tender? Are the potatoes beginning to break up when pierced with a fork?  Then it's time to add the broccoli and sausage to the pot.  Stir them in, and wait another five minutes until they're heated through.
Meanwhile, chop up a couple of tablespoons of parsley.  This will sharpen up the flavors of the stew, and add more green contrast.  You eat with your eyes as well as your taste and smell, remember.
At the last minute before serving, stir in that chopped parsley.
This is a meal all by itself, but a simple green salad makes a lovely accompaniment.

Wanna see my video from Roanoke's WSLS10 DAYTIME BLUE RIDGE, on making this stew?  Click here
Recipe below.

            At Basic Necessities, a quaint bistro and market in Nellysford, VA, chef Sally Justice makes vegetarian dishes that have quite a following, especially among the skiers at nearby Wintergreen Resort, says owner Kay Pfaltz.
            I’ve added spicy chicken sausages, and use chicken stock, to make a hearty meal.  You can go completely vegetarian, like Basic Necessities, by omitting the meat and using vegetable stock or bouillon cubes with water.

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 large carrot, halved lengthwise and sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
5 cups chicken stock (Or use 32 ounces with 1 cup water)
1¼ cups dried red lentils, picked through and rinsed thoroughly
2 medium potatoes, cut into ½” cubes
1 cup broccoli
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried
1 teaspoon salt
freshly group pepper, to taste
1 teaspoon cumin
½ pound kielbasa or spicy chicken sausage
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1.     Heat olive oil in large pot, and sauté onions over low heat for about 10 minutes. 
2.     Add carrots, and sauté for another five minutes.  Stir in garlic and be careful not to burn.
3.     Add chicken stock to the pot and turn heat to medium high.
4.     Add lentils; stir.  Add cubed potatoes to the pot and bring mixture to a boil.
Stir in thyme, salt and cumin.
5.     Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for about 15 minutes, until potatoes and carrots are almost cooked and lentils are tender.  Add sausages and broccoli, and continue to cook until sausages are heated through, about another five to 10 minutes.
6.     Stir in parsley, and serve hot.
YIELD:  4 to 5 Servings